Friday 21 July 2017

GPA push for hurling delay - 'Not right' to rush decision on new proposals, insists Earley

‘No issue’ with more drug-testing in GAA - Earley

Dermot Earley, CEO of the GPA, at the GPA Strategic Plan Launch in Santry, Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Dermot Earley, CEO of the GPA, at the GPA Strategic Plan Launch in Santry, Dublin. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Gaelic Players Association chief executive Dermot Earley says his body may seek to have Saturday's Central Council vote on the new hurling proposals postponed for two months to allow proper consultation among its membership.

Earley, speaking at the launch of the association's three-year strategy document in GPA headquarters, said there was no point in rushing such an important issue as reform of the hurling championships.

The GPA, like county boards, only received the full document last week.

"Let's hold tough on this," Earley advised. "Why do we have to have this decision within a 10-day period? That's not right. The next Central Council meeting is in August. Another couple of months is not going to kill anybody and that allows for any issues or adjustments possibly that will improve on this.

"We have to consult all the hurling squads on this and that does take time. If we don't have the feedback on time then I'll be asking Central Council to postpone this."

Earley said the GPA would welcome more drug-testing for inter-county Gaelic games and would be open to both the GAA and GPA providing some funding to Sport Ireland to improve their coverage in the sports. The former Kildare footballer said he was confident that there wasn't a doping problem in the GAA.

The GAA and GPA meet today and anti-doping is one of the topics that will be discussed, he said.

Earley said it would be “possible” for a funding mechanism for Sport Ireland to provide more tests to be discussed at the meeting.

Sport Ireland officials have cited funding as the main reason why more tests are not conducted in Gaelic games with up to 2,200 inter-county players.

On the subject of more tests, Earley said: “There wouldn’t be any issue with that. Everybody wants to ensure our games are clean.

“I don’t think there is an issue with doping in the GAA,” he said. “For us, it’s all about education. It’s about educating the members as quickly as possible. Certainly for new members that come onto a panel, it’s very important they get the brief around what they can and cannot take. And it’s very important that whatever they put in their body, that it’s cleared by their team doctor and their nutritionist. If they go with that route then I think they are safe enough.

“I think players now know that whatever they put in their body, ultimately is their responsibility,” he said.

The idea of a passport for inter-county players that would, presumably, require a ‘stamp’ for anti-doping and concussion protocols, among other things, especially for new players is in production stage, Earley revealed.

“The main thing would be around anti-doping education, concussion education. The other thing is that we catch players early and we tell them about the services that we provide. If we can get them all before we they put on a county jersey, I think that would be very good.”

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Irish Independent

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